Key economic events for the week of July 29

This week features a Federal Reserve policy meeting and is packed with economic data, including updates on the labor and housing markets. The key data points to watch could be the nation’s second-quarter growth report on Wednesday and the monthly jobs report on Friday.

Monday

At 10 a.m., the National Association of Realtors releases its index of pending home sales for June. After a rise of nearly 7 percent in May, a sales drop of 1 percent is expected.

Tuesday

More housing data this morning. The Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller home-price index for May is out at 9 a.m. Home prices have nowhere to go but up, by analysts’ estimates. Prices are forecast to have risen 12.4 percent from last year and 1.4 percent from April. They were up by just over 12 percent last time, driven by high demand and low supply.

The consumer confidence index for July is out at 10 a.m. The index, which serves as a measure of how people feel about the economy, is expected to stay at roughly the same level of 81. Consumer confidence has been rising steadily since April.

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee begins its two-day meeting.

Wednesday

At 8:30 a.m., the Commerce Department releases its estimate of the country’s second-quarter gross domestic product. Last quarter, the economic growth rate was revised down to 1.8 percent, much slower than initial estimates of 2.4 percent. This time, analysts expect an even more sluggish pace of growth: 1 percent.

Automated Data Processing releases its monthly snapshot of private-sector employment. A slip in the number of private-sector jobs added this month is expected: to 180,000, from 188,000 in June.

At the end of its meeting, the Fed releases its policy statement at 2 p.m. Despite recent speculation about the timing of the Fed’s decision to taper its stimulus program, analysts do not expect any policy changes to come out of the meeting.

Thursday

Weekly jobless claims, out at 8:30, are expected to have risen to 345,000, from 343,000 last week.

At 10 a.m., two pieces of data are released: the Institute of Supply Management’s July manufacturing index and June construction spending figures.

The manufacturing index is expected to rise to 52, from 50.9 in June. A number above 50 indicates growth. Spending on construction is forecast to have increased by 0.4 percent, following an increase of 0.5 percent in May.

Light-vehicle sales and chain store sales for July are also released today.

Friday

The July jobs report is out at 8:30 a.m. The unemployment rate is forecast to have dropped a notch to 7.5 percent, and the number of jobs added is expected to have fallen to 185,000. June’s report followed a trend of growth, as the economy added 195,000 jobs and the jobless rate was 7.6 percent.

Personal income for June is expected to have increased by 0.4 percent. In May, income rose by half a percent.

And factory orders for June are expected to have grown by 2.3 percent. They were up 2.1 percent in May.

Amrita Jayakumar covers federal government contracting for Capital Business, The Post's local business publication.
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